Shintoism  1) Name of religion – how did it get the name?  When did the religion start?  Who started the religion? – provide some details on life of founder(s)  Shintoism is an Ancient Japanese religion starting about 500 BCE. It was originally a combination of nature worship, fertility cults, divination techniques, hero worship, and shamanism. Its name was derived from the Chinese words “shin tao” in the 8th Century CE. Which means the way of the Gods. There were no documented known founders.
2) what is the geographic range of  religion?, what language(s) are used in the  religion?  
Shinto is practiced almost exclusively in Japan where they speak Japanese. According to some estimates about 100 million Japanese practice this religion.
3) any holy books? – describe the literature Although Shinto does not have sacred texts, there are some books that contain the myths and the religious traditions of the Japanese people such as the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. These document were written in the 8th century and contain history of Japan and it’s creation. 
4) are there any divisions, different denominations, among the faithful?  There are three main divisions in Shintois Sect Shinto, State Shinto, and Shrine Shinto. Most people who do consider Shinto their religion are presumably involved in “Sect Shinto.”
5) do faithful form communities?, how & when do they meet?  

The faithful do form communities, most Japanese participate in rituals and customs derived from several religious traditions. Life cycle events are often marked by visits to a Shinto shrine.
6) describe a religious service.  Please include internet links to examples, if available.   There are no weekly religious services because there is no holy place. The idea of the religion is to connect the followers with the spirits or the “Kami”.
7) what is the role of music, dance, art in the  religion? MUSIC: “Special Shintō music was devised for use in imperial shrines. In Japan such Shintō music is called kagura. The kind of music and ritual used exclusively in the imperial palace grounds is called mi-kagura, that in large Shintō shrines, o-kagura, and Shintō music for local shrines, sato-kagura.”

DANCE: “Kagura dances dedicated to native deities and performed at the imperial court or in villages before local Shintō shrines are in essence a symbolic reenactment of the propitiatory dance that lured the sun goddess Amaterasu from the cave in ancient myth. Although kagura dance has been influenced by later more sophisticated dance forms, it is still performed much as it was 1,500 years ago, to religious chants accompanied by drums, brass gongs, and flutes.”

8.) describe the religious calendar.  What are the religion’s sacred times?  Major festivals are held at each Shinto shrine each year.Spring festival: “Haru Matsuri” or “Toshigoi-no-Matsuri”

Autumn or Harvest festival: “Aki Matsuri” or “Niiname-sai”

Annual festival: “Rei-sai”

Divine Procession: “Shinko-sai”

Order of rituals at these festivals:

  1. Purification rites
  2. Adoration
  3. Opening the door of the inner sanctuary by the chief priest
  4. Presentation of food offerings
  5. Prayer recited by chief priest
  6. Sacred music and dance
  7. General offering
  8. Offerings taken away
  9. Shutting the inner sanctuary door
  10. Final adoration
  11. Feast

9) do the faithful have dietary restrictions?, other life-style restrictions?,  do the faithful have dress restrictions or distinctive clothing for certain life cycle events?, Is special jewelry or make-up worn?    No dietary restrictions, fasting on holidays is commonThere are no restrictions from what I found, however people who practice Shintoism find it necessary to perform purification rituals and make offerings in order to keep evil spirits out of their lives.

10) are there any special rituals at home?, grace at meals?, prayers?   “there are ceremonies which “consist of abstinence (imi), offerings, prayers and purification (harae). Purification, by washing with water, symbolically removes the dust and impurities that cover one’s inner mind.”

11) how is the religion organized?, describe its leadership.

There are Shinto priests are ordered within the shrine. Most Shinto priests are males but there are a few females. They usually study at a Shinto university before training at a larger shrine. Shrine Maidens (Miko) are common; they are young women who serve in the shrine until they are married. They are usually seen in white. Men and women are allowed to be married and have children if they are a Shinto priest.

12) describe the nature of the good & evil in the religion.  describe the nature of the sacred/divine in the religion.

                The belief is that humans are thought to be genuinely good and evil is caused by evil spirits. Most Shinto rituals are used to purify areas as well as themselves to rid and protect themselves of evil spirits.

13) describe the nature of the good life & ethical behavior in the religion.                Influenced strongly by Confucianism; reverence for the ancestors is highly important. They believe that humans have an internal moral and can be encouraged with shame from doing wrong (or evil) acts. Evil actions are cleansed through rituals of purifications. Sincerity is an important personality trait in Shintoism.
14) what is the nature of forgiveness in the religion?, forgiveness of self?, seeking and granting forgiveness from other individuals?, other peoples?, are there any rituals for forgiveness?

                Shinto Purification and offerings to the gods (Kami) are believed to rid one’s mind and body from impurities.

15) what is the range of political thought among believers?

Before WWII=Japan is a “Shinto State”, Religious practices and government issues we’re closely related. After WWII= Japan separates religious practices from the government.

16) what is the role of social activism  in the religion?  Sam
17) how does the religion provide outreach within the community?, to others? Wasn’t much about providing outreach in the community but there are annual festivals held during the different seasons.
18) what are the religious attitudes towards education and peace?

The moral code of Shintoism is built on Confucianism, the value of education is high.

They do believe however that all human life is sacred, so they are probably advocators of peace.

19) describe the nature of the afterlife in the religion.  

The afterlife is not a primary concern in Shinto, and much more emphasis is placed on fitting into this world, instead of preparing for the next. Shinto has no binding set of dogma, no holiest place for worshippers, no person or kami deemed holiest, and no defined set of prayers.
20) how does the religion envision the end of time, the last days of humankind?    There wasn’t much about how the religion envisions the end of time and the last days of humankind.